The Reward for Finishing
I finished a chapter the other day. I am actually cranking through chapters right now. It is pretty amazing seeing how quickly this thesis is coming together. I told Taryn that for the first time in this entire process I actually think I may finish. I have always said I would finish. I always thought it would happen, but I never actually believed it would. However, chapters are getting done and I am sending them off to my supervisor. I am quite excited about how it is all coming together.
When I let my mind wander, I start to think about the reward that awaits me when I finish. If you think about it, it is an odd thing. You are given a piece of paper that says you completed a thesis and thus, you are a ‘doctor’. Three years of my life, countless hours of forcing myself to write, not to mention a heap of money, and that’s what I will get on the back end. Don’t get me wrong, I am excited about it. It all just seems so very odd.
Now compare that promised reward, to the reward promised us by God. For all those who are united to Christ by the Holy Spirit, God promises to be our God and make us his people (Gen 17:7; Ps 48:14). This is amazing. The promise God gives us is a promise of himself. Not part of him (as if he could be divided up into parts), but all of himself. The beauty as well, is that this promise, this covenant that he makes is not dependent on us. It is not dependent on our work. It isn’t dependent on our effort because the promise is a purely gracious promise of God. God meets us and gives himself to us and, therefore, it is immovable and unchangeable because it rests on God himself in whom there is no shadow of turning (James 1:17).
Here in lies the beauty of all of this. We who are in open rebellion against God, who have been estranged due to sin, are made children of God, joint heirs with Christ. Because of this, we receive all the benefits of being his children. Herman Bavinck in his book The Sacrifice of Praise, puts it this way:
What gift is greater than that of God himself? What more can he give than himself—himself with all his virtues and perfections, with his grace and wisdom, with his righteousness and omnipo- tence, with his immutability and faithfulness? For if God is for us, then who will be against us [Rom. 8:31]? Whatever we encounter, he is and remains ours, in distress and death, in living and dying, for time and eternity.
What an amazing privilege! What a reward. When I finish my thesis and defend it, I will receive a piece of paper saying that I have accomplished this task. It is pretty cool. I am excited about it. However, in this life and the next because of the work of Christ on my behalf and the application of that work by his Spirit, I am united to God. Unlike with my PhD, I do nothing to deserve this reward. In fact, not only do I not merit it, but I demerit it. My receiving a PhD is reward for my labors. I have fulfilled the required standards to receive this reward. Receiving the benefits of the covenant promises is reward for God’s work. And unlike my PhD, God’s work is perfect, unchangeable, immovable, and eternal. It is a work in which I can rest. It is a reward that does not depend on me. It is a reward for the work that God does in me. This is amazing grace. How sweet the sound! Thanks be to God!